Amidst stories of the underdog and minorities, does the straight Chinese male have a story to tell in Singapore society? Two playwrights think so, and at the 2018 Singapore Theatre Festival, will be presenting these intimate stories of what it means to be a Singaporean male in today’s world, in a doublebill of two plays.
In the first half of the doublebill, director Ric Liu and playwright and performer Chong Woon Yong presents G.F.E., an acronym for ‘Girl Friend Experience’, referring to a term used by a local online forum rating sex workers based on how much intimacy they provide beyond the sex act alone. In G.F.E., a man is visiting the seedy red light district of Geylang for the first time with his friend, not for the food but for the women.
For the man, his first time is giving him jitters, and his mind wanders back through his own history with women, from his first love back in junior college, to a married woman to a one-night stand. For this man, he thinks about how society has made it such that it becomes next to impossible to admit the pain of heartbreak and sadness at the loss of intimacy, yet so easy to show one’s rage or numbness to a situation. In this exploration of love, one is left asking if the man truly looking for a transactional G.F.E., or if he is trying to recover from one.
In the second half of the double bill, Cut Kafka playwright Neo Hai Bin presents 招: When The Cold Wind Blows. Directed by Thong Pei Qin and starring Joshua Lim and Joel Low, When The Cold Wind Blows takes its title from a popular army marching song, and follows the story of Xavier Ong, a man who’s left National Service for 10 years.
But still, he is haunted by the recurring dream where a man in army uniform is interrogating him, forcing him to revisit his days on Pulau Tekong. Whether it’s the first time he touches his freshly shaven head or when coarse language begins spewing out of his mouth, there’s a kind of trauma and violence associated with growing up during national service that tugs constantly at his mind, the fact that in those army days, he becomes the kind of person he swears he never would turn into. Through military conscription, does NS training teach us how to have a capacity for violence, or does it simply unveil the inherent beast that’s been hiding within us all along?
G.F.E. / 招: When The Cold Wind Blows plays at the Creative Cube at Lasalle College of the Arts from 12th – 15th July, in Mandarin with English surtitles. Tickets are now sold out.